February 16, 2011, 1:24 PM

Social media can’t be all about sales

Beau Ties has found ways various ways to engage consumers on Facebook and Twitter.

Lead Photo

Justin Perdue

Social marketing cannot only be about producing a sale, said Justin Perdue, web manager, Beau Ties, today at the Internet Retailer Web Design & Usability Conference.

“You can’t only post products and specials,” he said during a session entitled “What it takes to make social media initiatives succeed.” “You have to get people talking.”

The Vermont neckwear manufacturer tries to accomplish that with many posts—including notable quotes about ties, reposting consumer’s reviews on the social network and luring multiple members of its staff to comment. For instance, Beau Ties’ fabric buyer posts about which prints the retailer is planning to roll out. That’s important, said Perdue, because its ties require a six-month lead time and getting feedback on Facebook can offer valuable insights.

“We’re literally working on Christmas in July, so getting comments ahead of time is invaluable,” he said. 

That’s why Facebook is the retailer’s best focus group, he said.

“You can spend countless time and money getting focus groups together,” he said. “Or you can spend five minutes to get feedback from your Facebook fans who can provide an instant focus group.”

Beau Ties lures consumers to Like the retailer’s page by offering a free shipping coupon code.

But Facebook isn’t the retailer’s only means of finding new customers in the social space. It also aggressively sorts through Twitter posts using social search tool 48ers.com to see what is being said about its brand, and about bow ties in general.

For instance, when a consumer posted that he couldn’t find a particular bow tie style at a rival retailer’s store, Beau Ties responded that it carried the style.

“It can be analogous to walking into competitor’s store and luring a customer into your store,” he said. “It allows you to maybe get another customer in five minutes of work.”

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